It could get messy in Mania's opener

A-League team prepares for rain-soaked field in Raleigh tonight

April 29, 1999|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND | LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Mania, the highest-level outdoor pro soccer team from the Baltimore area since 1991, opens play in the A-League tonight against the Raleigh Flyers on the North Carolina team's pitch.

Mania players arrived in Raleigh yesterday afternoon in rain and began planning to play their opener on a messy field, as well.

The Flyers will be playing their second game, having lost their opener at home to the Jacksonville (Fla.) Cyclones, 2-0.

"You're never really ready to start, I guess," Mania coach Daryl Gee said yesterday. "But we've come a long way in the last three weeks. Things are starting to come together for us. But I don't expect us to be at full throttle until maybe the third or fourth game."

The team has a 28-game league schedule running into September, when playoffs begin. Its home opener -- and second game overall -- will be May 9 at UMBC Stadium.

The Columbia-based Mania began hunting for players last fall. Gee said he and assistant coach Bill Stara have looked at more than 300 prospects.

Counting yesterday's last-minute signing of forward Scott Pearson, the roster headed for Raleigh numbered 19, at least 13 of whom either grew up in the Baltimore-Washington area or have ties locally through schooling.

At least five have A-League experience, and one, defender Clint Peay (Oakland Mills, Virginia) has played in Major League Soccer. But Peay, an Olympian and starter on MLS's first championship club, D.C. United, has been hampered by leg and knee injuries for two seasons and is trying to rebuild his career.

The experience will come in handy, because the Mania is in what Gee and others consider to be one of the A-League's toughest divisions.

"It's not going to be a weak league, at least for us," Gee said. "Each and every game is going to be important."

Mania schedule

Date Opponent Time

April 29 at Raleigh 7: 05

May 9 Charleston 4: 05

May 15 Lehigh Valley 7: 35

May 20 Atlanta 7: 05

May 23 Rochester 4: 05

May 26 D.C. United 4*

May 29 at Hampton Roads 7: 30

June 4 at Richmond 7: 00

June 6 Lehigh Valley 4: 05

June 12 Jacksonville 7: 35

June 20 Toronto 4: 05

June 25 at Charleston 7: 30

June 26 at Jacksonville 7: 35

July 3 Hershey 7: 35

July 9 Indiana 7: 35

July 17 at Hershey 7: 35

July 24 at Atlanta 7: 35

July 28 at Lehigh Valley 7: 30

July 30 at Indiana 8: 35

Aug. 1 Pittsburgh 4: 05

Aug. 7 at Long Island 7: 30

Aug. 8 at Staten Island 7: 00

Aug. 13 at Hershey 7: 05

Aug. 15 Hershey 4: 05

Aug. 20 at Boston 7: 30

Aug. 21 at Connecticut 7: 30

Aug. 27 Richmond 7: 35

Aug. 29 Raleigh 4: 05

Sept. 4 Hampton Roads 7: 35

* Exhibition with Major League Soccer's D.C. United to be played at River Hill High School Stadium.

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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